Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

The Colors of Old Time Nice


Watercolor Painting by Dennis Pendleton. On a painting trip several years ago, I spent a few days in the charming city of Nice on the French Riviera where I painted this scene of Old Town in Nice. This area was not "updated" so it still has narrow cobblestone streets and the original buildings which were not torn down and replaced with more modern architecture. The shopping is fun - there is an open air market with quaint restaurants and cafe's.

Because of the narrow streets, the cast shadows were what captured my attention. The sunlight and shadow sliced across the buildings and cobblestone lane yet there was plenty of reflected light and color. The white shirt on the waiter, the white clothing on the strolling shoppers, and the white umbrellas was of particular interest because of the colors in their shadows. I used cerulean blue for cool colors on the clothing and a warm mixture of yellow ochre and cobalt violet for the shadow shapes on the umbrellas. I wanted the clothing shadows to relate to the cool temperature of the street and the shadows on the umbrellas to relate to the warm colors of the buildings. Color temperature is a valuable tool that can add depth, richness, and variety to your paintings. Every color can be cool or warm, for example, cadmium yellow is warm and lemon yellow is cool. Adding a little cool color in a warm area and a little warm color in a cool area can make your paintings more captivating.

For the cobblestones, I used a mixtures of cerulean blue and cadmium red with a little extra blue for a cool gray. It is a darker value in the cast shadow but the same mixture with less water. I enjoy including figures in townscapes like this and I made sure that each figure had its own particular gesture so they didn't appear stiff and stoic. In this case, the figures in the back are actually darker than the ones in the front because they are in deeper shadow. If you ever get to Nice, make sure that you visit "Old Town" and spend some time strolling it's charming cobblestone lanes and checking out the cafe's and shops. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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